St Francis Q&A

Sunday, June 21, 2009

12th Sunday - Deacon Mel's homily

We congratulate our seminarian, Mel Ayala, on his ordination to the transitional diaconate last weekend. Please pray for him as he continues to prepare for priesthood ordination next June. Here is his insightful homily for this Sunday:

Last week we returned to the season of Ordinary Time. In the next few weeks we will again hear and read the parables, miracles and teaching of Jesus and the events that surround his ministry.

In the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus loves to tell stories, and we read of the calming of the sea in today’s gospel. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like to be in a small boat in the middle of a body of water when a ferocious storm comes up (I was a bit tense this morning when a line of thunderstorms passed through the Washington area…and I wasn’t in a boat but inside a basilica!). Two summers ago, when I was in southern Maryland, I met a few experienced fishermen who explained the dangers of being in turbulent waters. The disciples of Jesus, I’m sure, were aware of the dangers they were facing. And amidst the storm, when the boat was being tossed and turned, they couldn’t understand how Jesus slept through the torrential weather.

We come to understand and are aware that Jesus is able to handle all kinds of chaotic situations. After all, the Father has sent Jesus to restore creation by fighting the powers of darkness, sin, and evil. He heals the sick and confronts demons. Sounds like a modern-day superhero!

In our own daily lives, we experience joy-filled and peaceful moments with our families and friends. But we are also challenged by those chaotic moments in our lives, such as physical or mental illness and those situations that cause fear and uncertainty. I am often amazed when the tranquil sea of my life can change into violent waters of fear and hopelessness.

As modern disciples of Christ we know that we can pray to Jesus and have confidence that the rough, choppy waters of our lives can again become gentle, calm, and serene. Jesus reminds us of faith, for he asks his disciples: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

One of my favorite hymns is The Navy Hymn. The melody is peaceful and its lyrics, reassuring. In the first verse, we sing, “Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm has bound the restless wave, who bids the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep: O hear us when we raise our plea for those in peril on the sea.” Sometimes this hymn is a reminder to me that in the chaos of possibilities, in the chaos of life, and in the chaos of the moment, we cry to the Lord, “Why? Why me? Why now?” And it is during these moments when we rely on our faith – the faith we have in God, his mercy and his Church. Underneath this faith is our confidence and trust in the Lord and, God’s love for us.

In the turbulent times of our life, you and I know that we need to turn to God, totally and completely, not half-way, not partially, but totally. In difficult times, I sometimes turn to St. Basil of Caesarea who prays, “Steer the ship of my life, Lord, to your quiet harbor, where I can be safe from the storms of sin and conflict. Show me the course I should take. Renew in me the gift of discernment, so that I can see the right direction in which I should go. And give me the strength and the courage to choose the right course, even when the sea is rough and the waves are high, knowing that through enduring hardship and danger in your name we shall find comfort and peace.”

As we enter the season of Ordinary Time – a time of summer vacations, weddings, family get-togethers – I pray that this season may be an extraordinary one – extraordinary in such a way that you can rediscover and renew your faith in God who always loves you.


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